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Planning for Rush University's Future: Q&A With Thomas A. Deutsch

From the rising cost of higher education to changes in the way students learn, health sciences universities like Rush face significant challenges. Rush University’s leadership is developing plans to address these challenges.

What made this the right time to renew the University strategic plan?
It was time for Rush University to use the context of the last 45 years and changes in health care and education to evaluate where we’re going. We asked ourselves, “In 2022, when the University is 50 years old, where do we want to be, and what kind of actions and investments will be necessary to get us there?”
What was the result of this planning process?
We’ve developed a strategic plan for the coming years, one that’s primarily focused on the learning experiences our students need to have and how we, as a health sciences university, can provide what our students need to facilitate their success. That means focusing not only on our programs and how our curriculum evolves and develops, but also on Rush’s strategic partnerships and how we can leverage those partnerships to give our students the experiences they need while building our partners’ connections with the Rush system.
What are some of the investments the University will need to make?
Facilities are such a huge part of the university experience. The way in which adults learn has changed dramatically since we built our academic building 40 years ago. We’re determining the best way to create facilities that will be equipped not only for the realities of educating students today but for the flexibility to accommodate changes that may be coming 40, 50, 60 years down the road.
How does the cost of health care education factor in?
The cost of higher education is daunting for students in every health care field. In addition to the medical school, when we look at some of our programs like occupational therapy and speech and language pathology, many of them are very expensive, and many graduates find themselves deep in debt while starting the next phase of their careers. The generosity of our donors and alumni makes that burden a little lighter. While we continue to defray the cost of education through scholarship support, we also need to think about how to make education more cost-effective. The quality of a Rush education is already quite high, and there’s significant value in that. Now, like all universities, we need to look at how we can change the educational model to deliver that education in a more efficient way, giving students the same quality or better at a lower cost.

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